Author Interviews!

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Interview Questions.

Today the Lovely Katherine Kullmann, author of Georgian/Regency novels, has stepped to the chair! 

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

Ans:There was no one thing. I have always loved writing, and it has been an important part of my work, but it was only when I took early retirement that I had the time and space to consider writing creatively. I’ve been fascinated by the regency period since I first read Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen and it seemed natural to set my books there. As to what triggers a story—it can be something quite small, for example, take thisslight exchange between two women at a masquerade inPerception & Illusion:
“The carriage is outside if you still wish to leave. It has just struck midnight,” Thalia whispered.
“I do. And you?”
“I’ll stay awhile.”
I couldn’t stop wondering what happened when Thalia returned to the ballroom and the result was The Murmur of Mask. In the end, it was published first. I was so immersed in it by the time Perception & Illusion was returned from my editor that I decided to complete it before returning to P&I.

(2)  Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

Ans:I don’t think of my heroes in terms of alpha or beta but I would say they are a mixture of both. Luke Fitzmaurice, in The Murmur of Masks is the younger son of a baronet. Prevented by a previous illness from leaving university to join the Army in 1803, he will not be deterred from joining Wellington in Brussels in May 1815. He is a debonair man about town, an excellent brother, frequents a rough and ready fencing club in preference to Angelo’s and is interested in political reform.
The Honourable Hugo Tamrisk M.P, hero of Perception & Illusion, is the youngest surviving child and only son of the twenty-fifth Baron Tamm. One of the ton’s most eligible bachelors, he is inclined to be cool and reserved but is instantly attracted to Lallie Grey. On first sight, she finds him ‘very dark, with strong cheekbones and deep eye sockets set above a beak of a nose and a determined chin, above which his lips were fixed in a straight line’ but he soon reveals a ‘surprisingly attractive smile’.

(3)  Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– brief description!

Ans:Olivia Frobisher in The Murmur of Masks is the daughter and sister of naval officers. She is a competent and capable woman, used to sizing up a situation and making the best of it, but her aloof façade conceals a longing for love.
Lallie Grey, in Perception & Illusion, is governess to her younger half-sisters. She is warm-hearted, impulsive and full of life. Hugo admires her ‘slanted green eyes and provocative combination of a little turned-up nose perched above a plump upper lip’ but also finds her very easy to talk to.

(4)  Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Ans: Yes. In The Murmur of Masks, Luke’s friend Lord Franklin plays a very important part, as does Olivia’s friend the Duchess of Gracechurch. Perception & Illusion is more of an ensemble piece, with Lallie’s and Hugo’s families to the fore.

(5)  Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

Ans: Both are set in England, but with some of the action in Brussels and surrounding areas. Book One of The Murmur of Masks is set in 1803, Book Two in 1814 and Book Three in 1815. Perception & Illusion runs from mid-1813 to early 1815. There is a slight overlapping of characters between the two books as much of the action occurs within the same social set.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

Ans: I love regency fashion. It reflects the light-heartedness of the period. But I am also fascinated by the darker side of a world on the cusp of modernity.

(7)  Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?
Ans: Robert Grey, Lallie’s father, who only has an eye for the main chance, and his crony Frederick Malvin who leaps at the chance to marry Lallie.A thoroughly nasty pair.

(8)  Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

Ans: I don’t avoid sex scenes but do not include them gratuitously. They must be part of the plot and feel right for the characters in their time. I avoid gross violence.

(9)  How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, other...?

Ans: I describe my novels as ‘historical fiction for the heart and for the head’.

Back cover blurb, and point of sale links. 

Back Cover Blurbs;
The Murmur of Masks
1803/04 England is at war with France. Olivia Frobisher, daughter of a naval officer who is somewhere at sea, loses her home when her mother dies suddenly. Adrift and vulnerable, she accepts the proposal of Jack Rembletona natural scientist, hoping that love will grow between them. She is unaware that Jack, fearing exposure of his innermost secret, has yielded to pressure from his elder brother to marry and sire an heir to his title. Luke Fitzmaurice,devastatedat being declared unfit for military service, suffers another disappointment when he learns that Olivia is already married. Olivia too is shaken and realises that in accepting Jack’s offer she has cut herself off from the world of youth and the promise of love.

Ten years, later, Jack spends most of his time at his experimental farm, visiting Olivia and their three children occasionally. With Napoleon defeated, he leaves to travel abroad indefinitely. Luke has become more radical in his outlook and under the pseudonym Otanes casts a critical eye on society. He is still drawn to Olivia but must accept they can have no future. A sudden turn of events changes everything but Napoleon escapes from Elba. Although offered a seat in parliament, Luke purchases a commission in the 1st/52nd and joins Wellington’s army in Brussels. Once Napoleon is defeated, Luke must fight the battle for Olivia’s heart.

“Catherine Kullmann's debut novel offers lovers of historical fiction an authentic portrait of the passion and turbulence of the extended Regency period. It is a story of love and war; an eternal triangle with a difference.”

The Murmur of Masks is available as e-book and paperback worldwide from Amazon 

Perception & Illusion
Cast out by her father for refusing the suitor of his choice, Lallie Grey accepts Hugo Tamrisk’s proposal, confident that he loves her as she loves him. But Hugo’s past throws long shadows as does his recent liaison with Sabina Albright. All too soon, Lallie must question Hugo’s reasons for marriage and wonder what he really wants of his bride.

Perception & Illusion charts Lallie’s and Hugo’s voyage through a sea of confusion and misunderstanding. Can they successfully negotiate the Rocks of Jealousy and the Shoals of Perplexity to arrive at the Bay of Delight or will they drift inexorably towards Cat & Dog Harbour or the Dead Lake of Indifference? Catherine Kullmann's skillful evocation of the Regency period rings true, as do her protagonists’ predicaments. It is a joy to step into this other world with her.

What they say about Catherine Kullmann’s writing
‘Fans of historical fiction will be delighted with a well-wrought story and a wealth of authentic detail.’
‘A page-turning plot of romance and intrigue with well-developed characters set in an extremely well-researched and detailed Regency period.’
‘The characters are particularly well drawn, and the English Regency setting is just perfect.’
‘You really get a feel for the Regency era and the conflicts and difficulties people faced.’

Perception & Illusion is available as e-book and paperback worldwide from Amazon

In the Interview chair today is the lovely Erato... 

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

Ans: So, my entire Regency Romantics series began with choosing plots from actual old books and plays, and using those as scenari; kind of like you do with a commedia dell’arte play, where you use the same stories over and over, but it comes out new and different because you’re filling in the details from scratch – working in fresher or better ideas you got, improving what failed in the past incarnation, stuff like that. The book Sweet Errors is based on an opera from 1790 called Cosi fan Tutte. There are some significant differences even in the general description of the two plots, but that’s what Sweet Errors was modelled from. I tried to correct some of the issues with Cosi, such as how the scheme to test female fidelity had seemingly come out of nowhere, and consequently the characters seemed a bit unsympathetic because there was no motivation for putting everyone through the wringer like that. So, for instance, I made it that the girls were the ones who really started the ball rolling with this whole testing of fidelity, and the boys were motivated in response to that.

(2)  Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank? – brief description!

Ans: Sweet Errors has two male leads. They do have the fits of passion and emotion usually associated with alphas, but the fact that they aren’t really running the show sort of takes away the implication of leadership I would think of when I think alpha. They are both young guys, sons of wealthy country landowners, who don’t really have their own fortunes or properties yet, but also have every reason to expect they will eventually inherit those things from family members. Bertie Wooster types, I suppose, though a tad more rugged as befits their era.

(3)  Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank? – brief description!

Ans: The two females are sisters, and they are daughters of a reasonably wealthy merchant-landowner. They’d be marrying up by marrying squires. Their personalities are rather more ditzy than I’m used to writing, but I’m a believer in making characters to serve the plot, and Sweet Errors has a plot that doesn’t really suit heroines who are too intelligent or steadfast.

(4)  Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Ans: Mr. Hackett was originally going to star in a romantic subplot all his own, but I quickly found there wasn’t enough space for that in a book of the length that I wanted. I had imagined he’d end up with Despa, the maid, who was going to be smart enough to escape from her own crummy situation as a housekeeper who doesn’t even get to choose her own name; but her role was chopped down to almost nothing by the time it was over. I suppose I might recycle that story for some future work. Omitting that romantic plotline actually caused Hackett to come off as possibly gay, between his female pen name, his misogyny, and his unusual attention to the two young men – which maybe worked better for the story, really. One of my favorite romantic heroes in the whole Regency Romantics series is Richard Kensington from In the Fire; and he and Mr. Hackett actually seem to be almost the same character; they are men of science who didn’t find it to hold the answers they wanted, and turned to the comfort of literature instead. The main difference is that Hackett got older and kind of channelled his life’s disappointments into a literary career, whereas Kensington, alas, merely got really into Goethe’s Sorrows of Werther, and consequently didn’t get older. In Sweet Errors, Hackett is the one who is actually pulling the strings – the highwaymen didn’t come up with these stupidly literary backstories and Adam Ant style costumes on their own. That’s all Hackett’s direction.

(5)  Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

Ans: Sweet Errors is set in 1797, which is the year in which it is generally assumed that Jane Austen completed the writing of her book Pride and Prejudice (though that book wasn’t published till much later.) That was my only real reason for choosing that year. It is set mostly in a place called Walton Bay, which is apparently little more than a trailer park nowadays; but I wanted it to be set at the seaside, for reasons related to my memories of the staging of Cosi fan Tutte, I suppose; and it had to be in kind of a rural area where the characters wouldn’t encounter a lot of other people who might spoil their schemes. I had also intended to use the proximity to Bristol for some plot purposes, though in fact I wound up not using those sequences I had planned for the city. But, the female leads live in Walton Bay, and their boyfriends live nearby in Walton-in-Gordano and Weston-in-Gordano. I’ve never been to these places and had to learn about them from Google Maps, town websites and a couple little references in old books.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

Ans: I’ll tell you honestly, the Regency isn’t one of my favorite historical eras; the costumes are a little plain for my taste and it was the beginning of that “Victorian” idea of kind of prudish good behaviour. I remember once reading an old play from 1706 called The Recruiting Officer – I began reading it on Google Books from an early edition, but with the weird typefaces they used in that era, it was hard to read; so I sought out another copy. I ended up finding an edition from either 1800 or 1810, in a better typeface, but it was amazing how much was censored in that version compared to what was in the original. It showed how much the morals changed in just that 100 year span! Thing is, I find stories where everyone is behaving well to be incredibly boring – I kind of prefer the wild antics of the 18th century, to the 19th century’s backlash against it. When I first began to write Regency Romances, most of what I knew about the era was picked up from the Surgeon’s Hall Museum and from episodes of Blackadder. Consequently, I display what I recognize is kind of an unusual interest in the diseases everyone had. I got to use some of that in Sweet Errors. I was trying to follow the literary rules of disease, where too much stress causes a deadly condition called “brain fever” that was evidently thought to be a real thing at the time, and was understood to be potentially fatal. It sounds like the medical treatments they used against brain fever were the only reason it was ever deadly, though – lots of heavy bloodletting was the recommended course. Nowadays brain fever would mean a condition like encephalitis or meningitis, but in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the disease that everyone in novels was dying from after receiving distressing news – I guess because when you’re under stress, you can get headaches or have trouble concentrating, so they believed that it was a fever forming in your brain.

(7)  Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

Ans: I think I like all the characters in Sweet Errors. The book Honoria has characters I dislike – amusingly because I was trying to make them more likeable to the general public by toning down their worser traits. As I said before, I find stories where everyone behaves well to be so boring! Nobody behaves in Sweet Errors.

(8)  Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

Ans: Sex scenes, yes – not that I’m exactly prudish about sex, it’s just I don’t feel sex scenes add much to a work. It certainly doesn’t move the plot forward to know the details of her “mound of Venus” or his “Beefy McManstick” or whether anyone’s moaning with pleasure. Especially now that I’m an adult and can easily get real porn, if that’s what I want – I just don’t enjoy a good story interrupted with a description of imaginary characters having sex. It’s a great way to lose my attention. Gross violence, on the other hand – I love that! There wasn’t much opportunity for it in Sweet Errors, but in books like Pursuit I made good use of it. Violence, gross or not, can totally move a plot; and in a book it’s difficult for it to really be properly gross anyway, because you don’t get the kind of visuals you would from a film. When I was young, there were movies my mother forbade me to watch, like A Clockwork Orange – but she was fine with my reading the book versions, I assume because the inherent nature of its being a book just tones down the violence so much.

(9)  How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, other...?

Ans: Oh, god, this was really tricky to figure out when I needed to come up with titles and labels for the ISBNs! I think Sweet Errors is pretty definitely a romantic comedy, and in fact might be the most straightforward romantic comedy of the whole series, even if everyone does get the dreaded brain fever.  I used the neutral term “novella” for most of the Regency Romantics titles because some of the books aren’t quite as humorous. The ones I labelled as “romances” are usually so called because someone dies – and even then they are often a bit humorous or satirical. Like, In the Fire is almost making fun of the Werther-suicide phenomenon that went on around that time, even though I don’t think it’s quite right to call that story a comedy. I’m not very good at writing anything with a totally straight face, though. There’s very little that I can take 100% seriously, and it often seems kind of arrogant, to me, when people think that everything has to be serious and others are wrong to be amused.  That’s not to say I intended the Regency Romantics stories as satires – in fact I was a bit annoyed that that’s how they kept coming out – but it seems to just naturally fall that when I imitate the old style storylines, I automatically seize upon some really weird element that turns the whole thing into a John Waters kind of satire, every time. I don’t even like John Waters’ stuff all that well, but it’s undeniable that my style resembles his – I think because he’s doing the same kind of thing, taking his favorite old books and films and trying to imitate them and improve upon them, but through a mind a little too twisted to interpret with perfect sincerity.  

The Richmond sisters have met the men of their dreams — or have they?

Charlotte and Elizabeth Richmond have every expectation of marrying their devoted boyfriends, Thomas Marchant and Robert Benjamin; but when they come to question the fidelity of these men, a series of events are set into motion which can change their lives forever. Two highwaymen in hiding take residence near the Richmond home, and the sisters begin to fall for these mysterious strangers. Will the girls betray their long-time lovers, or will their fidelity stand true? It is a matter of the utmost importance — for Thomas and Robert have bet their entire fortunes on it.

A sweet and silly adventure in love, Sweet Errors plunges the reader into an exciting 18th century world of young lovers, secret identities, romance novels and breezy seascapes. Pick it up and you will fall for the charms of its amusing cast and vibrant story.

Amazon (UK)      Amazon Com

Today I have the inimitable D. W. Wilkin, talking about his latest novel:
"Caution's Heir".

Award winning author, Mr. Wilkin is a graduate in history. He has been writing in various genres for thirty years. Extensive study of premodern civilizations, including years as a re-enactor of medieval, renaissance and regency times has given Mr. Wilkin an insight into such antiquated cultures.
Trained in fighting forms as well as his background in history lends his fantasy work to encompass mores beyond simple hero quests to add the depth of the world and political forms to his tales.
Throughout his involvement with various periods of long ago days, he has also learned the dances of those times. Not only becoming proficient at them but also teaching thousands how to do them as well.
Mr. Wilkin regularly posts about Regency history at his blog, and as a member of English Historical Fiction Authors. You can read that blog at English History Authors. His very first article was published while in college, and though that magazine is defunct, he still waits patiently for the few dollars the publisher owes him for the piece.
Mr. Wilkin is also the author of several regency romances, and including a sequel to the epic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. His recent work, Beggars Can't Be Choosier has won the prestigious Outstanding Historical Romance award from Romance Reviews Magazine.
The Interview:

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

I started the first draft over four years ago and I am now not sure how I came to this story. The character of Mrs Bottomworth was clear from the first moment. A guide for my heroine that was provocative and evocative. But the basic plot and story points are now lost to my memory. I believe I thought that Heyer might have used such a device and perhaps I thought that I could tell the same idea in my own style. A man wagers all and loses his home and all his belongings on the play of the cards. Including his daughter…

(2) Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

I think of Lord Arthur, the Earl (courtesy) of Daventry, as an Alpha. The father of a friend who seeks a polishing influence has a discussion with Arthur, and we see that our hero is one who is a sober example of what one should be in the Ton. His father spent the family fortunes in his youth and so when Arhtur went off to school he had very little. He has used what skills he has with cards to add to his small allowance and with good investment and guardianship, he has done well.

(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description!

Lady Louisa. For all but the last few months, she was the Honourable, for her grandfather and uncle were a Marquess. Then recently her father became the Marquess, and yet he is the worse one imagines with such a title. For he does rather quickly gamble away all his wealth, and then absconds for the new world. Leaving her behind and with nothing. She however had only the good traits she has learned form her other relations. The late Marquess, and that family which allowed her profligate father and she to live on the manor grounds.

(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

There are many secondary characters for Daventry leads a set. This includes a young man whose mama wants him married, and who needs some more maturity. Lady Louisa has a boon companion thrice her age in Mrs Bottomworth whom I am told is a favorite from amongst the first readers.

(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

It is Town and Country. Post war. Our heroes are only just thinking of what they need to accomplish in life and so have yet to take up any serious profession. Nor are they old enough to have served functionally in the war. Near the end of the reign of George and near the beginning of William, though nothing of worldly events intrudes on the tale.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

This is my sixth regency (and I have a modern book with Jane Austen, so perhaps this is #7) and so I feel comfortable here. I have the tropes down, and I explore different themes. Two Peas, for instance covers a lot of ground of men just back from the war, and carrying the burdens of what they have seen, while the regular Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, regency motif plays along. I find the regency a place I can have fun as a writer, with he said/she said, misunderstanding, love.

(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

I don’t dislike any of my characters. Even the ones I have my heroes plant facers on! They serve a purpose and I use them for that. Some of my characters I really like, and there are some tales where I wish I could jump right in and live the life I have made for that character (In regency and fantasy though I need to create indoor plumbing to make me truly wish I could jump in, and a parrallel for Tums…) Sometime I do have pure evil, but usually those who we see as bad, live to their own code and see what they are doing for the expedient reasons that they need to. One countries bad seed, is another countries hero. (Or sometimes just plain crazy and in power.)

(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

I do avoid most of that. My Regencies tend to end at the last page with the first kiss between our hero and heroine. In Beggar’s I had to have the couple be married so sex was off camera! There was one scene of nudity that was needed for the story line, but otherwise, (and our heroine there was married and had two children as the story progressed) there was the thoughts of what lovemaking had entailed, but not the action of it. In a few stories (I just finished a first draft in a fantasy) short quick euphemisms serve to take us in a sentence through the beginning, middle and end of foreplay, the act itself, climax and le-petit-mal. There are plenty of places I find that one can read that, and to me it detracts from the telling of a story.
Or let me put it this way, if I had my faithful fans sitting around a campfire wanting me to read my story to them, what could I read aloud and none of us be embarrassed.

(9) How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?

I think Caution’s Heir is Romantic fiction. I do not take a great deal of time in putting in a time point in history in this particular tale. It happens in the later part of the regency, but we don’t see much of the world beyond what our characters encounter as they go through their lives.

Back cover blurb:
Teaching a boor a lesson is one thing.
Winning all that the man owns is more than Lord Arthur Herrington expects. Especially when he finds that his winnings include the boor’s daughter!
The Duke of Northampshire spent fortunes in his youth. The reality of which his son, Arthur the Earl of Daventry, learns all too well when sent off to school with nothing in his pocket. Learning to fill that pocket leads him on a road to frugality and his becoming a sober man of Town. A sober but very much respected member of the Ton.
Lady Louisa Booth did not have much hope for her father, known in the country for his profligate ways. Yet when the man inherited her gallant uncle’s title and wealth, she hoped he would reform. Alas, that was not to be the case.
When she learned everything was lost, including her beloved home, she made it her purpose to ensure that Lord Arthur was not indifferent to her plight. An unmarried young woman cast adrift in society without a protector. A role that Arthur never thought to be cast as. A role he had little idea if he could rise to such occasion. Yet would Louisa find Arthur to be that one true benefactor? Would Arthur make this obligation something more? Would a game of chance lead to love?

Author web site.



Today I have the lovely Anne Stenhouse  talking about her novel:
 "Bella’s Betrothal".

Anne Stenhouse writes Regency era historical romance which is dialogue rich and humorous. She spent many years writing drama and loves to carry the skills learned from theatre work into her novels. Married to her own hero and dancing partner for over thirty years, Anne has acquired an interest in old buildings and opera. From the buildings, she crafted her hero, Charles Lindsay. He’s based on the gentlemen architects whose skills built Edinburgh’s New Town and many wonderful country houses still extant. From her own life-long interest in dance, she created young ladies like her heroine, Bella Wormsley. From the opera, she understands that no plot is ever too far-fetched.
Anne lives in Edinburgh but travels widely. Recent forays have included Vietnam and Cambodia where the architecture in both is jaw-droppingly fantastic.
Anne continues to live in Edinburgh and enjoys being able to walk out to the streets which her heroine would have trodden.
The Interview:
(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

Or who? I just loved historical romance as a teenager and read piles of it. I discovered Georgette Heyer as a young adult and dived in head-first. Wonderful stories full of glamour and sparkling wit which are as readable today as they ever were.
(2)Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!
Charles Lindsay is an architect, but also a Scottish laird. Not a person of the top ranks like the Royal dukes or even the aristocrats, but a person of family and clan responsibility. Does that make him beta? I thought he was pretty attractive: good looking, intelligent, touch of arrogance in need of taming…
(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description!
Bella Wormsley, Lady Isabella, is the daughter of an earl and the granddaughter of a duke. She’s top drawer, but she’s half Scottish and so like Charles has a strong sense of the value of others. Her hair, beautifully realised by Charlie Volnek’s cover, is that mass of red corkscrew curls seen around in Scottish society. She’s a lady of huge energy, talented as an artist and headstrong. A clash is inevitable.
(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?
Bella’s aunt and uncle, Hatty and Mack Menzies and her cousins form a colourful backdrop when they give Bella shelter from scandal. There is also a villain, Graham Direlton, whose ambition drives a lot of the plot.
(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.
Bella’s Betrothal opens in an inn bedroom in Dalkeith and moves to Edinburgh, 1826.
(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?
I enjoy thinking myself back into the restrictions and social norms and niceties of that period. I try to use the differences to make a colourful canvas. Many of them are limiting, but many of them allow such interesting What ifs? I enjoy that moment in time where English, the language, was modernising. One gets to Jane Austen and thinks, “I understand this.” I am horrified by the social rules and use them to infuse reality as background. I think it’s really important to remind women in particular how recently we did not vote as of right, or own property, or go against the family wishes for fear of ending in Bedlam.
(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?
I dislike my villains because I have crafted them from personality traits I dislike. I wouldn’t spend a lot of time with some of the lesser characters because they’re not the positive people in the leading roles.
(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?
I do avoid those things. The novels have a lot of sensuality, I hope, but I don’t go in for graphic description or extended bedroom romps. I like to write by the tenet that “the pictures are better on the radio”. I think readers are intelligent and enjoy the fantasies they can weave from the hints you drop in your words. I abhor violence. Of course there is violence around wherever people live together, but I don’t regard it as entertainment. So, murders may be committed, but the details are sparse. Any other fearties like me are quite safe with my prose, I think.
(9) How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?
Bella’s Betrothal is Regency style Scottish historical romance with touches of intrigue and much laughter.

Back cover blurb:
BELLA’S BETROTHAL by Anne Stenhouse, published MuseItUp, Canada.
While she is travelling north to find sanctuary from the malicious gossip of the Ton, Lady Isabella Wormsley’s room in a Dalkeith inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay. Charles has uncovered a plot to kidnap her, but Bella wonders if he isn’t a more dangerous threat, at least to her heart, than the villainous Graham Direlton he wrests her from.
Bella settles into the household of her Aunt HattyMenzies in Edinburgh’s nineteenth century George Square where Charles is a regular visitor. She has been exiled to the north by her unfeeling mama, but feels more betrayed by her papa to whom she has been close. Bella hopes the delivery of her young cousin’s baby will eventually demonstrate her own innocence in the scandal that drove her from home.
Bella’s presence disrupts the lives of everyone connected to her. Direlton makes another attempt to kidnap her and in rescuing her a second time, Charles is compromised. Only a betrothal will save his business and Bella’s reputation.
Mayhem, murder and long suppressed family secrets raise confusion and seemingly endless difficulties. Will the growing but unacknowledged love between Bella and her Scottish architect survive the evil Direlton engineers?

Anne blogs at Novels Now which is here: Anne
Bella’s Betrothal is available from many online vendors. 

Today I have Lindsay Downs in the Interview Chair, talking about a recently released novel:
"The Guilty Countess" 
Lindsay prefers to remain anonymous!
Brief bio: What does it take to be a bestselling author?
Determination, skill, talent, luck or taking a risk with a venture into a totally new genre. For me it was a little of some and a lot of the others. In 2008 when I got two books published I thought it was due to skill; little did I know it was more luck than anything. Over the next three years I wrote, submitted, got rejected. I then did what I tell everyone who asks; I wrote some more. I didn’t give up. More on a dare than anything, I tried my hand at a regency, one of the most difficult genres because of the rules. I broke almost every one, I might add.. Within two days of its release the book was on a best seller list and stayed there for two months.
Turns out it is all of the aforementioned.

After two failed marriages, one from divorce and the other from the death of my wife, I decided upon retirement to move. That opportunity came in September 2012 when I migrated to Texas. For me, as a multipublished author, making the decision to be an author was one of the best things I’ve done to date. Now, every day I can write, creating stories to take my readers to places they can only dream about. I’m also a member of the Published Authors Network (PAN) by the Romance Writers of America (RWA).

The Questionnaire:
(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

When I was writing The Masked Lady and The Murder I got the idea for this book. It was, once again “a what if” question. What would happen if Lady Kersey was accused of killing her husband but the unanswered question-did or didn’t she. To find out that answer you’ll have to read the book.

(2) Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

Lord Robert Markson, Viscount of Hampshire, is an alpha but is smart enough to listen to his wife, even to where he will follow her advice. He’s five and twenty and a former captain in the Guards. I don’t describe him so as to let my readers decide what they want him to look like.

(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description!

Lady Kristina Markson, Viscountess of Hampshire, achieved the title by marriage. She’s very strong willed, with a mind which easily can see when something is wrong. When she does she wastes no time in informing Lord Markson.
She has mousy brown hair with pale blue eyes.

(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Yes, Lady Donna Kersey. She is the older sister to Lord Markson and plays an important role in the story in helping to find out who killed her husband.

(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

The book is set during the regency period in England. It starts out in London then to hide and protect Lady Kersey Lord and Lady Markson smuggle her to his country estate. Then they travel to Stratford upon Avon in disguises and by public carriage to interview a possible suspect before returning to the estate. Finally, as the last pieces of the puzzle come together the three return to London openly. Yes, there is a bit of traveling but I can assure you at each stop valuable information is learned.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

I wrote my first regency period piece in 2012 and developed a love for setting my stories in the period after having read a great number of books set during it.

(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?
Lord Ethan Rosewood is the heir to the Earl of Crossington title and feels it’s his duty to attempt to control Kristina. He’s overbearing, obnoxious and demanding. You will only see a very little bit of him in this book but fear not he will have his own story. The reason I dislike him is he reminds me of my older brother.

(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

I purposefully avoid sex scenes as I don’t feel they do anything to enhance or move the story forward. I will show the end result of gross violence but not the act. It’s the same with the other books in the series and my other regencies.

(9) How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?

This is a historical mystery fiction where none of the characters are real.

Back cover blurb:

Accused of murdering her husband, Lady Donna Kersey turns to the only people who can prove her innocence, her brother and his new bride.

As Robert and Kristina start their search for the real killer they learn the murder might be more complicated than first thought. Uncovering evidence sends the three in pursuit of a possible suspect only to find this person is innocent, or is he not guilty of the murder but not something else.

When Robert and Kristina learn Lord Kersey might not be exactly who they believe him to be that’s when the facts become murky. It takes a surprise visit by Kristina’s brother to help set the record straight which only adds more confusion to the facts.

Will Robert and Kristina find the killer of Lord Kersey before the authorities take Lady Kersey away in irons?
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Today I have the lovely Renée Reynolds in The Interview chair talking about her aristocratic heroes from The Lords of Oxford series!

 Author Renée Reynolds grew up all over the world as the daughter of a globe-trotting Marine father and spirited and supportive mother. Their family motto: you can never learn too much, travel too much, or talk too much.

She majored in majors in college, and after obtaining a handful of degrees, she decided not to use any of them.  Instead she writes about what she cannot do - go back in time to dance at balls, flirt with lords and scoundrels, and gallop unfashionably down Rotten Row during the most fashionable hour.

After dodging a few Collinses and Wickhams, Renée happily snared a Darcy. Her HEA turned out to be in Texas, where she resides with "the hubs, the kiddos, a boisterous menagerie of indoor and outdoor animals, and a yard of meticulously maintained weeds." She has happily tagged on this addendum to the family motto: you can never read too much, too often, or too late at night.


(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

I've always been an avid reader, the type to get lost in a story and see the characters and plot playing like a movie in my mind. Jane Austen is my favorite author, and the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice opened an entirely new reading world to me – Austen fan fiction, sequels and reimaginings, and the historical romance novel.  As I devoured author after author, discovering storylines and characters that I liked and loathed, I suddenly found myself picturing a plot I could create, characters I could bring to life.  After an encouraging “just do it!” from my husband, I sketched the outline to several novels . . . and just did it.

(2) Alpha or beta hero – profession/title/rank?– brief description!

My heroes are a combination of the alpha and beta hero, which some have defined as a third type – the gamma.  My heroes are strong, capable, and dependable without being obnoxiously arrogant or insufferable.  They are the gentlemen you hope to meet in real life, the ones you picture yourself marrying without having to grit your teeth and hope to change his overbearing and high-handed ways.  My heroes are Jonas Leighton, Duke of Dorset (Book 1) and Roman de Courtenay, Marquis of Stafford (Book 2).  They are peers of the realm that take their obligations seriously without letting themselves be consumed by Society's demands.  Dorset wants his sister married because she's driving him crazy, but he's not going to toss her to the first or wealthiest suitor.  Stafford feels pulled in too many directions by his family and title duties, and just wants a bit of a break from his pile of responsibilities.  Both lords love their families, recognize the good and the bad in the Society to which they were born, and strive to find a balance between what's expected and what works for them.

(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description!

My heroines are Ladies Juliet Quinn (Book 1), daughter of the Marquis of Lansdowne, and Miranda Leighton (Book 2), sister to the Duke of Dorset.  They are best friends, and personality foils to each other.  Lady Juliet is witty and cerebral, and very proper in Society.  Lady Miranda is outgoing and gregarious, and skirts the edges of indecorous behavior in her efforts to see and experience all life offers.  Both ladies enjoy the bit of independence their high titles afford them, in comparison to some other ladies of the time period, and have strong opinions and beliefs that they express, when asked.  Picture the Duchess of Devonshire without the gambling or endless affairs.

(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Family is important in my stories, so parents and siblings are characters that I've fleshed out and given relevant voices, but the strongest secondary character would have to be Catherine Allendale, Countess of Ashford.  She is the aunt of Juliet (and her brothers, Charles the Earl of Bristol and Marcus the Army Major), and a force of nature.  She endured a marriage typical of the time – a merging of titles, lands, and monies – but her husband was also cold and even emotionally abusive at times.  After his death, she capitalized on the freedom that widowhood brought and resolved to live in a manner that suited her beliefs and desires.  She tells Juliet and her friends how to be proper but strong ladies, encouraging them to be respectful without being meek.  She educates the younger ladies on their roles in Society and their future homes, but that they don't have to be mindless drudges.  And she really delights in doing things she knows her late husband, the dearly-departed and unlamented Earl, would have abhorred and forbidden.

(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

My novels are set during the Regency period in England, specifically the summer of 1814.  Napoleon has just abdicated his crown, for the first time, and England is celebrating the Glorious Peace.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

I love the manners, the dress, and even the structure of Regency society.  Mind you, there were plenty of things wrong during this time – from abject poverty to oppressive taxation to war – but it was also a time of industrial growth and increasing enlightenment.  Every period in history has both its positive aspects and its horrors, and it can be difficult for us to wrap our modern minds around some of the things that were considered acceptable in the past.  I think it's also true that each era has its independent movers and shakers – those who push the boundaries of the status quo – so we have to be careful to read with a mind toward historical accuracy in all its forms.

(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

I have a villain causing havoc in each storyline that is particularly disgusting, the Viscount Melville.  He really has no redeeming qualities, and is a broad caricature of the stereotypically nasty aristocrat of the time period.  He is self-absorbed, arrogant, threatening to his sister and other ladies, and not good ton, to quote a phrase from that period.  But it's hard to say I dislike him.  As a person, he's repulsive, and I would stay far from him.  As a character, he's necessary in spite of his awfulness, which is exactly as he should be.

(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

I keep the sex behind the bedroom doors, but the kissing, longing, and desire is front and center.  The scenes are sensual but still subtle.  As for violence, my villain uses both intimidation and force to further his purposes.  His level of aggression increases in Book 2, because of the rising desperation he feels over his situation, but I refrain from gross violence.

(9) How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?

Definitely historical fiction, heavy on the romance.  They are also full of shenanigans.
Back cover blurbs:

Lord Love a Duke:
Jonas Leighton, Duke of Dorset, hastily organizes a house party to find a suitor for his spirited sister, Lady Miranda. To thwart him she enlists her closest friend, Lady Juliet, and they unleash a series of pranks meant to confound his plans - if only he would cooperate and be the victim. Nothing goes according to plan for any of the scheming guests, yet the party will indeed end in a wedding.

A Marquis For All Seasons:

Lady Miranda Leighton and the Marquis of Stafford, Roman de Courtenay, have a similar problem: their families want them to find a spouse. Together they hatch the perfect scheme: in Society, he will play escort to Lady Miranda and his sister, but for their families, they will pretend an attachment, all in pursuit of one last season of unencumbered entertainment. Yet, in each other's constant company, they find their ruse giving rise to some surprisingly very real feelings. What happens when you set out to fool Society, but only end up fooling yourselves? 

Author blog

Today I have Heather King revealing aspects to do with her historical romance novel,

Heather prefers to remain anonymous!

From the age of about seven, when I won a third prize from Cadbury’s for a short story I had written at school, I was hooked on writing and stories. I was a dreamer and could go off into a make-believe world for hours, but I also loved art, reading and animals. For a long time writing was just another leisure activity, particularly during my teenage years. I worked in various jobs before getting the chance to train in a professional yard and pursue my dream of a career with horses. For all I swore never to be a teacher, I love training and schooling!

Family commitments brought about a move from the north to Worcestershire, where I now share my lovely home with various life-forms, including two ponies, three cats and a boisterous new addition in the shape of a rescued ‘Staffie X’. I like to write warm, humorous romances, mostly in the Regency and Paranormal genres. I love Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels and whilst writing in my own voice, my aim is to follow (albeit with tiny steps) in her magnificent wake. I have just completed a shape shifter novel and am currently polishing a collection of Vampire Romance short stories ready for publication. A Sense of the Ridiculous is my debut Regency novel, but I have others at various stages of completion as well asmy second work, An Improper Marriage,due to be published sometime this summer.

When I’m not looking after the family or frowning over notepad or keyboard, I can be found walking my dog, fighting a losing battle against weeds and lawn, reading or baking chocolate and banana cake.

“The Interview”

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

A love of the Regency and the Yorkshire countryside, coupled with enforced time off due to the Foot and Mouth crisis gave me the background and opportunity. Then, whenmucking out one morning, my pony charged across the field andI started to wonderwhat might happen if my heroine’s horse bolted and she found herself in unfamiliar country.

(2) Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

Richard is definitely an alpha hero, yet he has beta characteristics too. He is an innkeeper, but unbeknownst to him at the start of the novel, he has more exalted connections. Aged 27, he is a handsome and personable man, with brown wavy hair and thoughtful blue-grey eyes. He likes a woman to know her own mind!

(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description!

 Having lost her mother when still a child, Jocasta (20) has had an unconventional upbringing under the casual guidance of her father, bluff country squire Sir Thomas Stanyon. She has run semi-wild with her brother and his friends for much of her life. She loves dogs and horses and is an excellent rider, but is sometimes impetuous, which leads her into scrapes. She tries hard to be good, but is a little impatient of some the restrictions now imposed on her. She is also frustrated by the dull men in the locality, one of whom her father favours as a suitor.

(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

 Yes. It is partly because of heraunt, the Countess of Harford, that Jocasta finds herself lost. Harry, her brother, is instrumental in her separation from Richard. Richard’s mother, Meg Cowley, also has an important part to play, as her actions affect the final outcome.

 (5) Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

 Regency England, autumn 1817; specifically the countryside around York (Yorkshire), although some action takes place on the road to London and in the capital itself. The novel covers a period of several weeks, with an epilogue set about three years later.

 (6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

I love the style, elegance and courtesy of the Regency era (as well as men in neckcloths, breeches and top boots!) I also like the quieter pace of life then. Although I sometimes think I should have been born in an earlier age, I like my mod cons too much!

(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

I wouldn’t say I dislike him as such, but Harry is annoying because he is selfish and thoughtless. He isn’t deliberately unkind; he just sees the world purely from his own perspective.

 (8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

In my Regency novels, while I touch on sensual feelings, I do not have sex scenes unless the characters are married and even then with no graphic detail. It is more emotional. In a contemporary novel, I have no problem with including a love scene if it is pertinent to the story and the characters are in love, but I prefer to leave much to the reader’s imagination.

 (9) How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or…?

A Sense of the Ridiculous is romantic historical fiction; a light-hearted romp in the best tradition of the Regency genre, which I hope leaves readers with a smile on their faces!

Back cover blurb:

 When a prank goes wrong, headstrong squire’s daughter Jocasta Stanyon wakes up in the bedchamber of an inn with no memory of who she is. The inn is owned by widow Meg Cowley and her handsome son, Richard, who proves to be more than a match for the unconventional Miss Stanyon. Initial attraction leads, through various scrapes and indiscretions, to love, but their stations in life are far removed from each other and fate tears them apart with a cruel hand. Forbidden by her father to have any contact with Richard for six months, Jocasta is horrified when she is then summoned to receive the addresses of a fashionable stranger..

Heather’s author blog

Today I have the lovely Nancy Jardine in the interview chair, talking about her wonderful Celtic Fervour Series:
 Bk1 The Beltane Choice; Bk2 After Whorl: Bran Reborn; Bk3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks.
At the foot of the Interview you will encounter my reviews of these wonderful Celtic/Roman themed novels.

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in an area that’s steeped in antiquity- just as well since loves to write about ancient peoples. She regularly grandchild-minds; tends a messy garden; does ancestry research and leisure reading when she can squeeze them in. Her published work comprises two non fiction historical projects and six novels. Three novels are Contemporary Mysteries set in spectacular world locations; the others are Books 1 to 3 of her Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures. Writing in progress is Book 4 of her Celtic Fervour series, a Scottish family saga, and a time-travel novel for early teens which has been languishing for too long unpublished. 
Topaz Eyes (Crooked Cat Publishing) an ancestral-based contemporary mystery/thriller, is a finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE Fiction 2014. The winner is announced at the Awards Dinner on 28th May, at the Guildhall of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in London.
The Interview:

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?
The Beltane Choice, the first book of the series, developed as a result of my teaching the Celtic/Roman Britain period to my upper primary classes. I loved teaching all historical eras but particularly enjoyed early Roman Britain. Researching the period isn’t easy when there is scant evidence to go by, but the era holds great fascination for me.  I chose to write about a fictional Celtic warrior family, from the hillfort of Garrigill, rather than focus on well-documented historical figures. Historically eminent Romans or Celtic nobility are mentioned in name only as part of the plots.
(2) Alpha or beta hero – profession/title/rank?– brief description!
Book One has an alpha hero in Lorcan of Garrigill, in the sense that he is in a powerful position and to many extents controlling, yet he does not hold the supreme power. Lorcan also has flaws, one of which is serious loyalty to his own Brigante tribe which doesn’t sit well with plans for a marriage with Nara of the Selgovae.  Lorcan is the second-born brother; the mediator between the local, warring Celtic tribes. He becomes the spokesperson of the northern Brigante tribes in negotiations with the Roman Empire and is the best candidate to lead his tribe after the Battle of Whorl - a bloody event against the Romans. Books Two and Three are about Brennus, a younger brother of Lorcan, who is a more of a beta hero in that his former status is somewhat compromised by the injuries he receives at the Battle of Whorl. From being the tribal champion at single combat (a high accolade in Celtic tribal structure but not one with ultimate rule), he has to come to terms with disabilities and learns to use new skills which enable him to still be a prime figure in his tribe. His new life involves assuming a second identity as a spy for his King Venutius, gathering information about Roman expansion in the northern areas. It’s a dangerous business to be involved in and not for the faint hearted. Both, I think, are lovely men!
(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description!
In Book One, Nara is the daughter of a Selgovae chief. She’s a feisty lass, a warrior princess with battle ready skills, but is also a healer. Her destiny abruptly changes and instead of becoming a priestess, she’s expunged from the priestess nemeton and charged with finding a man to marry, in order to father a child at Beltane. Her choice of mate cannot be made without much care and attention; a challenge she must rise to since the man must be supremely worthy. Captivity by a rival Brigante tribe makes her situation occasionally just a bit worrying, yet Nara is very adaptable, spunky and resourceful.

Books Two and Three feature Ineda of Marske. She is of lowly stature in her Brigante tribe but is a quick witted young female who has deep hatred for the Roman usurpers. She embraces the life of a spy with relish and aids Brennus of Garrigill in his guise as Bran of Witton till she is captured by a Roman tribune and kept as his slave for many years. Ineda’s enforced slavery means spying is extremely hazardous but she does not give up. She also has healing skills passed down from her grandmother which she uses to her advantage when incarcerated behind Roman fortress walls. She is a young woman of great intellect and ingenuity; full of curiosity; and loves to learn.
(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

In Book 1, Brennus is a secondary character with a strong role in the plot. It was because he got a raw deal from me in The Beltane Choice, I decided he needed a story of his own. That decision led to the writing of a follow-on book which, in turn, ended up being Books 2 and 3 of the series. Book 2 introduces Ineda of Marske who is also a Brigante, though not from Garrigill. As well as interacting with Brennus in Books 2 and 3, Ineda finds herself imprisoned for a while by a Roman tribune, Gaius Livanus Valerius. The tribune has great impact on what happens to Ineda and as such, Gaius plays a very strong pivotal role- in essence he’s a third protagonist in Book 3. However, since my series is about the Garrigill warrior brothers, Lorcan and Brennus reappear in later books- along with their immediate families- playing secondary roles.

(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

The era is the late first century Britain from AD 71 onwards. Books 1 and 2 are set in current northern England (mainly in Brigante Territory AD 71-78). The locations are Celtic hillforts or Roman forts and fortresses. Book 3 sees Brennus and the Garrigill warriors moving slowly northwards into modern day north-east Scotland, largely mirroring the northern campaigns of Governor Agricola when he marched his legions to the far north of Britannia.  Celtic settlements and Roman forts are also the main settings in Book 3.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

I love plunging my characters into an imaginary landscape that I’ve created using as thorough research of the period as possible. Since visual and written artefacts are rare, there’s a lot of reliance on interpretative history. The fact that new archaeological research can alter previously perceived ideas makes researching the period even more exciting, perverse as that may sometimes seem. Though I’m writing fiction, and haven’t needed to do it, I’ve altered my WIPs to accommodate new evidence that has been unearthed whilst writing my Celtic Fervour Series.
(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

I’m not sure I actually dislike them, but I’ve included some minor characters which have made the lives of my protagonists more difficult. I wasn’t too enamoured of a warrior of the Carvetii called Shea of Ivegill who appears in Book 1. He’s quite a nasty man who wants Nara of the Selgovae but only on terms acceptable to him. Reading the book will show why he isn’t the happiest of men. In Book 3, Ineda has to deal with her Roman master’s mean secretary - but Pomponius isn’t all bad, he has some qualities I hope readers will enjoy. Otherwise I’ve not, so far, felt the need to make any character really, really horrible.

(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

No. I don’t avoid sex scenes but I’ve had to be cautious in writing some of the scenes to avoid some readers reading it as rape. However, I stand by my decisions that in the era in which I’m writing, what we now term ‘rape’ – as in unwanted sex – happened as a result of war between Celtic tribes, and between the Celts and the Roman Empire. When Celtic lands were invaded, I’m sure such events did occur. With regard to violence, I have some scenes of battle which definitely include bloody tactics – though I don’t believe they are unnecessarily gory.

(9) How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?

My series is being promoted as Historical Romantic Adventure. It has a sound historical background in which varying degrees of romantic entanglements happen, so it isn’t a historical romance where the romance is prime, and the background superficial. Happy endings don’t result in all books. It isn’t conventional historical fiction since the protagonists aren’t Kings, Queens or well-known historical figures- though the backdrop is historically accurate in terms of settings and historical locations. My authentic historical Celtic and Roman figures appear in cameo roles, or are mentioned in a background role. The Celtic Fervour Series is a meld of different historical sub-genres and as such is Historical Romantic Adventure.

Back cover blurb: Book 3- After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks
Pursued by Rome. AD73 Northern Britannia

After King Venutius’ defeat, Brennus of Garrigill – known as Bran – maintains a spy network monitoring Roman activity in Brigantia. Relative peace reigns till AD 78 when Roman Governor Agricola marches his legions to the far north. Brennus is always one step ahead of the Roman Army as he seeks the Caledon Celt who will lead all tribes in battle against Rome.
Ineda of Marske treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius, who is responsible for supplying Agricola’s northern campaigns. At Inchtuthil Roman Fort Ineda flees seeking fellow Brigantes congregating on the foothills of Beinn na Ciche.
Will the battle against the Romans bring Ineda and Brennus together again?

Today for “The Interview” I have the lovely Andrea Zuvich talking about her novel
The Stuart Vampire.

Andrea Zuvich is a historian specialising in the Late Stuarts of the 17th-century and is the creator and writer of the popular Early Modern history website, The Seventeenth Century Lady. Andrea was born in Philadelphia to Chilean immigrant parents, and later educated in History and Anthropology at both the University of Central Florida and Oxford University. A member of London Historians, the Historical Writers Association, and the Historical Novel Society, she has been independently researching the 1600s since 2008.A UK resident, Zuvich is a leader on and one of the original developers of The Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace, Historic Royal Palaces. She has been interviewed by NTR (Netherlands), BBC (UK) and others about the Stuarts and has written for The Huffington Post UK.

The Interview:

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

I have always been interested in gothic novels. I really enjoyed Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and The Monk by Matthew Lewis. Dark tales, and stories that combine both the wicked aspects of humanity and those of supernatural folklore intrigue me. When I wrote my first novel, His Last Mistress: The Duke of Monmouth and Lady Henrietta Wentworth, I focused on the doomed love affair between the two main characters, who once actually existed. In The Stuart Vampire, I have the first chapter start off as a standard historical/biographical fiction novel but then more fiction and the horror elements begin to take over.

(2) Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

Our main (anti)hero is Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, who contracts smallpox when he's twenty years old. Instead of dying, a vampiress (who has been obsessed with him from afar) turns him into a vampire and brings him into a world of death and darkness – a world he despises. He does some pretty horrific things, but there is the light of goodness still in his heart. He is plagued by a conscience and this is something the transformation into vampirism was supposed to have destroyed. I became interested in the real Henry Stuart after seeing his portrait – his whole face seemed most vampire-like –and that just made me imagine a storyline with him as the protagonist.

(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description!

The heroine is a long-suffering young woman named Susanna Edmonds. She lives in Coffin’s Bishop, which is a severely inbred town, and her life is a series of horrors – rape, bullying, servitude, and more – and that’s before she becomes acquainted with horrors of the supernatural world! In spite of the numerous hardships she has faced, Susanna is not a bitter, angry woman, but sweet and hard-working, and Henry acknowledges this and respects her for it. Susanna does, however, undergo a major character change and she finds the strength to avenge certain wrongs.

(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

The secondary (lead) is the antagonist, Griselda di Cuorenero, an Italian countess who is exceedingly beautiful. Her extreme vanity leads her into the arms of the Devil – and she pretty much becomes the Devil’s groupie. She’s besotted by his power, but she still has a strong need to be loved and desired by a man. First, there was Adolphe de la Fontaine, a man who couldn’t accept the creature she was and paid dearly for it. She’s a very interesting character because she is a combination of madness, of obsession about things most of us consider superficial, and she loves evil. I pity her a bit because all of her life she was taught that she was beautiful and so she treated everyone like dirt. She simply doesn’t understand that beauty really is only skin deep. And in her case, she’s rotten on the inside.

(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – time-frame – country etc.

The story takes place in several times and countries. It begins in the Victorian period, goes back to the 1650s, then further back to the 1400s, back to the 17th-century, then to the 16th-century, 17th-century, and back to the 19th-century. Readers go from England to France, to Constantinople.

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

I absolutely love the 17th-century because it had everything – the political landscape is fascinating, the historical figures from this time are vibrant, and the moral pendulum swung this way and that. I felt quite happy, however, to have been able to write in other time periods for once – I quite like the gas-lit streets of Victorian London and the coastal palace in Italy during the Renaissance. Let’s just say I had a LOT of fun writing this!

(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

The whole town is dislikeable! That being said, both Belinda and her brother, Peter (who is just a thug) are the worst. Both these characters make Susanna’s life quite miserable. But they might just get their just desserts. I don’t like people who are cruel or aggressive and both of these characters exhibit both. 

(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

No. In fact, there are some very violent scenes, but I tried not to make any of the scenes gratuitous. They are there for a reason – each and every one of them. There are massacres, a rape scene, a disturbing witch trial and hanging – so it is not for children!

(9) How would you rate your novel – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?

This is a historical horror with a touch of romance. It begins as a normal historical fiction, and then the supernatural elements come in.

Back cover blurb:

Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, is the youngest brother of King Charles II and James, Duke of York. A handsome, good man, his life ends in 1660 with smallpox...or does it? Obsessed with Henry, Contessa Griselda di Cuorenero - one of the Devil's concubines - turns him into a vampire and plunges him into the world of night. Pacts with the Devil, massacres, plague, fire, witch trials, and the love of a lonely outcast from the sleepy village of Coffin's Bishop have an irrevocable impact on the young vampire. Henry must choose between his humanity and his monstrous, insatiable desire for human blood. From the author of "His Last Mistress," The Stuart Vampire is a dark gothic tale incorporating the real horrors of mankind in the Early Modern period, natural disaster, and the supernatural world.

Author web site/blog url(s). Andrea's Website



Today I have the lovely Time-Travelling author Anna Belfrage, who bravely stepped from the whirl of  her time-slip series "The Graham Saga" to answer my questionnaire.
A little about Anna...

Born in Sweden, I was still a baby when my parents decided to move to South America – at the time as distant from Sweden as the moon. My childhood was spent in various South American countries, and as a consequence I grew up tri-lingual and with a fondness for spicy food, Salsa and hammocks.

Had I been allowed to choose, I’d have become a professional timetraveller. As such a profession sadly does not as yet exist, I settled for second best and became a financial professional (I like numbers – AND words) with two absorbing and time-consuming interests, namely British History and writing. These days, I spend almost as much time writing and researching as I do working, which leaves little time for other important pursuits in life such as cooking, baking and buying new rose varieties.

“The Interview”

(1) What actually inspired the writing of your novel(s)?

It all began in 1624, when a twelve-year-old boy named John disembarked in Gothenburg. He was a Scot, of noble birth, but something had forced him and his mother to flee their homeland, leaving behind the boy’s father.

Approximately 370 years later, I married the descendant of that boy – yet another John, but with the name’s Swedish version. My husband brought a lot of admirable qualities to our marriage – and as the icing on the cake, he came with this fascinating family history, manna from heaven for a history nerd like me.
As a consequence, I started reading a lot about the 17th century, trying to discover why John and his mother fled in 1624. So far, the precise reasons remain unknown, but John himself cited religious upheaval. Whatever the case, thanks to long dead John, I developed a fascination for the 17th century – and particularly for all those religious conflicts that so plagued the century.
This is the very personal reason for me setting my books in the 17th century – and for having a male protagonist for whom religion is a big thing. Okay, so most people back then considered religion a big thing – especially along the lines of “are you with me or against me?”. Catholics persecuted Protestants, Protestants persecuted Catholics, and Christians persecuted Jews and Muslims – in general a heady brew with not one jot of tolerance in sight. Which was why I was so delighted when I came upon the Colony of Maryland and their innovative Act of Toleration, dated 1649, allowing all Trinitarian faiths to co-habit.
By now, I was starting to see a certain structure to my story: Presbyterian Scotsman must ultimately end up in Colonial Maryland. Said Scotsman is an attractive man, veteran of the English Civil War, a man of integrity and convictions. Borderline staid one could argue – which is why I threw dear Matthew Graham a curve ball by gifting him with a time-traveller wife.
Alex is a woman Matthew is helplessly attracted to, can’t live without, and who challenges his predefined notions over and over again. She is also brave and resilient, willing to risk everything for him, and being a man, Matthew is of course most flattered by her devotion and love.

(2) Alpha or beta hero –profession/title/rank?– brief description!

My hero - Matthew Graham – a most untitled Scottish Presbyterian is gifted with magical hazel eyes, a tall physique and a certain similarity to granite – quite recalcitrant in certain matters, principally those that have to do with his faith.

Due to his background as a soldier in the Commonwealth armies, Matthew can hold his own against more or less anyone with a sword. He is an excellent marksman, has a love for horses, but is first and foremost a farmer, in love with that little piece of Scotland he calls home. A man of integrity and convictions, Matthew is a tad too stubborn at times. And should anyone threaten his adored wife – or his beloved bairns – well then God help them, because Matthew Graham will stop at nothing to see his family safe.

At times, Matthew finds his wife somewhat of a challenge. Opinionated and outspoken, Alex ends up in a number of scrapes, and Matthew lives in constant fear that someone will find out she’s a time traveller – or even worse, that the ground will open at her feet and attempt to swallow her back, yank her away from him. To Matthew, Alex is his own, very personal miracle – a gift from God, no less.

(3) Can you describe your heroine’s personality- title/rank?– description?

Alex Lind is the daughter of a Spanish time travelling witch and a Swedish botanist – not that Alex is aware of her mother’s time travelling background, at least not initially. Her mother has been hop-scotching through time for ages, trying desperately to get back to 15th century Seville, and Alex’s father has his suspicions about his exotic wife but loves her too much to push too hard.

Alex is tough, agnostic and realistic – all qualities that help her come to terms with the very sudden change in fate she experiences on that momentous August day when she is sent spinning through time to land at Matthew Graham’s feet. She is also spontaneous and warm-hearted, and at times these rather likeable traits land her in all sorts of problems. Fortunately, she has Matthew watching her back (like a hawk).
Rarely does Alex yearn for the life she’s left behind – at least once she is over the initial shock. After all, had she not been dragged back in time, she’d never have met Matthew, and that would have been a major loss. But she is painfully aware of how much more fragile life is in this her new environment, and her man doesn’t exactly make things easier, what with his propensity to go gallivanting about on the moors to protect ousted ministers or his stubborn refusal to kow-tow to the Anglican Church. Alex makes it her own personal mission in life to keep her man safe – no matter what the cost. Matthew is touched and irritated by her protective streak; in his world, the man does the protecting, even when gifted with a wife who has a black belt or two in martial arts.

(4) Are there secondary lead characters with important roles?

Oh, yes, there is a whole set of secondary characters, starting with Matthew’s lawyer brother-in-law, Simon Melville and that force of nature, Mrs Gordon (Mrs Parson in the later books – the lady might be somewhat long in the tooth, but she is quite the guy magnet) who is the closest thing Alex has to a mother and best friend rolled into one. As the story develops, the Graham children come to play important roles, as do a number of ministers, some likeable like Julian Allerton, others narrow-minded worms (Alex’s words) such as Richard Campbell and the imposing Gregor Macpherson. Plus, of course, once the Graham family settles in the Colony of Maryland, we have Qaachow, Susquehannock chief, and the very nasty Burley brothers who make Matthew’s life hell on more than one occasion.

(5) Where is the novel (s) set? – timeframe – country etc.

The saga is set in the second half of the 17th century. It starts off in Scotland, does a most involuntary trip to Virginia (Matthew is sold as bonded labour by his nefarious brother), returns to the Scottish lowlands when His Restored Majesty, Charles II, decides to force all Presbyterians to foreswear their Kirk (and Matthew isn’t about to sit on his hands when the ministers of his kirk are persecuted, leading to a lot of tension), and finally makes for the somewhat safer Colony of Maryland, where Matthew and Alex set about creating a new home for themselves and their family. Not that they’ll remain welded to the ground, as adventure calls them off to Jamaica and Barbados – and back to Scotland, just in time for the Glorious Revolution. See why I need so many books to tell this story?

(6) What is it about your chosen era/periods that you most enjoy?

What is there not to enjoy about the 17th century? In many ways, it’s a breaking point between the old and the new, and by the time the century ends, the world has seen its first Bill of Rights, a recognition of every man’s worth (emphasis on man; women didn’t quite count – not yet). Plus,I find the religious strife that plagued the century fascinating –the relatively young Protestant factions facing off against the impressive might of the Holy Church.  Also, this is the century in which the colonies in the New World were established, and I have always admired all those people who were brave enough to cut all ties with their homelands to cross the Atlantic in ridiculously small and fragile ships and then, once they’d made it over, reinvent themselves in an entirely new place.

(7) Which if any of your characters do you dislike, and why?

Quite a few, actually, but to pick one from the heap, Matthew has a brother who doesn’t exactly win any brownie points – at least not in the first three books. Luke Graham is violently jealous of his older brother, and when he comes home from the wars to find Matthew wed to Luke’s sweetheart… (This is before Alex shows up. Once she does, Matthew never looks elsewhere again. “Hmph!” Alex snorts. “We both know that isn’t true.” Well, no, but Matthew only turned to pretty Kate because he despaired of ever seeing Alex again. “Hmph,”Alex repeats, but her face softens, and she leans towards her man, resting her hand for an instant against his cheek) Where was I? Oh, yes, Luke comes home, finds Matthew married to his Margaret and is so enraged by this that not only does he woo Margaret back (easily, as Margaret loves Luke, not Matthew. She only married Matthew because she believed Luke would never return) but he also sets Matthew up, having him accused of being a Royalist traitor. Sort of amusing, seeing as the Royalist is Luke

(8) Do you avoid sex scenes, gross violence or other in your works?

Gross violence yes. Sex scenes absolutely not – but I try to not be gratuitous about it.

(9) How would you rate your novels – historical fiction, romantic fiction, tear-jerker, emotional drama, swashbuckling adventure, or...?

Historical fiction with sizeable pinches of romance, emotional drama and swashbuckling adventure (Now didn’t I do an excellent job of using up almost all the options?) Seriously, The Graham Saga follows a family through a tumultuous time in history – the 17th century was no walk in the park, neither in Scotland or in the New World – so there is plenty of room for adventure and drama.

The Graham Saga (published so far: A Rip in the Veil, Like Chaff in the Wind, The Prodigal Son, A Newfound Land, Serpents in the Garden. Coming soon: Revenge and Retribution)